Friday, May 21, 2010

post shavuos

so today chana did three halves. the first half she blitzed through. the second half was fine. i should probably have stopped there. but it was so tempting, since she read "therefore a man will leave his dad and his mom." and then she was wondering why and how and what that means. and i thought it would be great if she read the second half and answered it.

but she didn't want to which meant that it took 3x as long to do 5 words as it took to do the two halves that she had already done. whining, moaning, groaning, forgetting suffixes, complaining. even after translating she didn't really understand what it was saying, and she was so busy fighting me that she did not get the pleasure of having her question answered.

i do think, however, that had i waited until next chumash session, she also would not have gotten the pleasure of having her question answered. because the moment the question occurs, while you have that curious feeling, is the time. and it's not so easily recreated.

some questions came up on shavuos regarding chana's learning. first, that a child her age ought to have the capacity to sit and learn for hours with breaks.

i am thinking about that. according to chazal, between the ages of 5-10, the child is supposed to learn all of torah shebichtav. whether that's the 5 books or the 24 books of tanach. let's just even say the 5 books. to be fluent at reading and understanding them by the time he is 10, or let's even go crazy and say 13.

it was a challenge to get through the 5 books with sarah by the time she got to 8th grade. we did it, but i can't say she was fluent at it or had it at her fingertips as a solid basis for delving into torah shebaal peh.

i am also thinking about how i don't think kids chana's age need to be sitting for hours and studying, even with breaks. i like the idea of a childhood mostly doing what she is interested in. i have found with sarah, and i think chana will be the same, that when she wanted to go to school she had no problem sitting in class from 8:30am-5pm with small breaks. many children in schools are burnt out from the hours of sitting.
so i am currently thinking about the capacity to spend more time working and the benefits it will have on her skills and abilities, vs the benefits of a more "unschooled" and self-directed childhood.

secondly, it has come up (and my rabbi mentioned something similar) that i am not structuring chana's rewards properly. as i posted previously, my rabbi suggested that torah learning (as opposed to let's say, learning to read books or scientific inquiry) do not go in line with the instinctual nature of the child. to some degree curiosity is innate and in every tzelem elokim, but the hours of effort that are a prerequisite to serious learning is not going to be achieved naturally. it has been suggested that we wait until the child is grown enough to appreciate it (adulthood?) and then the child will seek the skills himself, like a baal teshuva does. but assuming i want to equip my child with the skills so she can learn, the hours that need to go into translation skills are not naturally inclined. i do think there is more natural interest in thought training, but i am finding that i am (perhaps mistakenly) trying to do that at the same time as the skills work, and the skills frustration is obfuscating the thinking training.

i do find that chana is trying to get through the work as quickly as possible, not inclined to linger and think about it, not inclined to do more pesukim (even though i was rewarding per amount), and vehemently opposed to review.

i am not sure how to begin structuring a rewards system that would get her to do the pasuk a number of times until she was fluent in it. and have her do a lot of pesukim.

i have been having her translate. i wonder if i would translate for her first, if that would make a difference.

also, i need to review the prefixes and suffixes with her. it seems she's forgotten most of them. i really have to make this a priority. i've been trying to get her to speak hebrew (she's got 7 words on the list of 10 words i made) and write etc etc. so much to juggle, so much to keep track of, so much so much! and she's forgotten the 6s and 7s of her times tables... so we've been reviewing that. ok, enough feeling overwhelmed. i'm going to review prefixes and suffixes with her.

another thing that came up was a friend of mine was telling me how her daughter used to be so frustrated about writing. and then, the teacher this year taught them "scaffolding," which is a very step-by-step process of showing them exactly how to write and what to write. and now her daughter doesn't complain or have trouble. which reminds me of alfie's point that before a rewards system is structured, it is important to consider what we are teaching, if the child is capable, if it is interesting, and the method we are using. perhaps before thinking about rewards, i need to think about how i am having her translate and if it is the most effective for her.
i also need to think about what my goals are. yes, i'd like her to read and translate. but more specifically, how do i want each chumash session to go? right now i don't think either of us are enjoying it all that much.

i did mention to chana that i think she is old enough to do more pesukim than she is currently doing, and she was receptive to that.

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